Resenteeism: what is it and what was the worst thing your boss did? What readers had to say

The cost of living crisis means many people are sticking to their job for security - not because they like their boss

With the cost of living crisis still hanging over us, many people are worried about affording the basic necessities and this can lead to people stuck in jobs that they don’t like, or can’t afford to leave. 

For some, this can lead to resenteeism, a spin on the occupational psychological term presenteeism. Resenteeism is where people find themselves dreading work, complaining about their workplace and their job or maybe feeling muted towards their work. Some of the reasons leading to resenteeism is having a bad boss. 

Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management told NationalWorld that people resenting going into work is not a new thing, but the way we work has changed after the pandemic, as there are more hybrid options. Mills explains: “Some of the resentments are people feeling a little bit ignored or not valued, simply because half your workforce isn't present anymore - it might be virtual and that leads to a lack of human connection.” 

SEO Services Reboot carried out a UK study in January 2023, asking 3,445 people from 29 different sectors whether they liked their boss, and if not, what were the main reasons. They found the retail industry hates its bosses the most, with 51% of retail employees disliking their managers. The healthcare sector earned the second spot, with 48% of respondents admitting they don’t like their bosses and the sales sector is in third place, with 47% of employees hating their bosses.

At joint fifth place are energy or utility companies and public services alongside government administration, seeing 42% of workers not getting on with bosses. The survey also found being underpaid, micromanagement and having a lack of communication are cited as most of the common reasons bosses are disliked.

Resenteeism - what to do about bad bosses (Kim Mogg / NationalWorld)Resenteeism - what to do about bad bosses (Kim Mogg / NationalWorld)
Resenteeism - what to do about bad bosses (Kim Mogg / NationalWorld)

So, we at NationalWorld, asked members of the public what was the worst boss you had ever worked for. On Twitter, Amanda Finley's response to us said: “I worked for a major international aid group twenty years ago. In their branch HQ office. There was no training because no one knew how to do this job. They had laid off the staff in a 2-state region (supervised 12+ Puerto Rico). Bold red 72 font at noon on day 1: WHERE IS THE REPORT?”

Grace He, People & Culture Director of said: “One of the worst bosses I ever had was a manager who took the "my way or the highway" approach to staff communication. She rarely offered constructive criticism and instead focused on reprimanding employees for small mistakes. This lacked consideration for us as individuals and made us feel like cogs in a wheel rather than unique contributors. In summary, this boss's leadership style created a morale-deflating atmosphere that further deteriorated her team's success rather than fostering it.”

Wanting to stay anonymous, one person told us: “My worst boss was at a very high profile, iconic venue where there were high standards of work expected from the employees. I’d only met the hiring manager, who was my boss, during the interview where I got a great impression and she advocated friendliness and encouragement in the team but whilst this was the case from my colleagues, it most definitely was not the case with her.”

My manager continuously harassed and bullied multiple colleagues.

Anonymous worker

They said that after two weeks they attended a meeting where Islamophobic ‘jokes’ were used casually among other members of the extended team and when this was brought to their attention their manager brushed it off. 

"My manager continuously harassed and bullied multiple colleagues within the company that she did not like as well as asking everyone for their postcode so she could monitor their location and also undermining her employees' decisions in front of clients." The worker quickly left the role as the environment began to affect their mental health and the stress of the manager’s attitude and bad moods began affecting their work.

Another response to the question also was a communication issue. They said: "In my current role, I’m torn between loving the actual role and hating my boss. There are major communication issues in the workplace, and I often get confused about what I’m supposed to be doing during my workday. My job role has not been defined properly, but I end up taking over several caseloads from the other team to cover any staff shortages - and my work gets neglected so I stay late to cover it."

They go on to say that their boss never informs them of a change in plans and if their boss communicated more effectively, despite several attempts to bring this to their attention, they wouldn’t feel such a dread to go into work. 

How to deal with a bad boss

Mills reveals how to deal with a bad boss. She explains that no boss deliberately sets out to be a bad boss. She says: “Out there, the psychopaths aside, some bosses are trying to do their best. But some of them haven't been trained, some of them are not very emotionally intelligent, and some of them are not very good at their job, but they're trying on the whole to do the best they can.” 

In this case, Mills suggests trying a new form of communication might be the key to smoothing the relationship and it is being aware of how your boss might communicate - for example they could come across as rude - but for them, they are just being direct. She explains: “Sometimes you just have to tell them directly and say, ‘Look, I don't think you're really aware of this but when you said this, that really took me aback because I felt quite offended by it because it felt unfair.’ They will probably be horrified that they had that impact on you because it doesn't register in their heads that that might have been taken the wrong way.”

Out there, the psychopaths aside, some bosses are trying to do their best.

Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management

Mills also says some bad bosses push boundaries, and if you push back then they would know that their actions were not acceptable. She says: “ I think there are some bad bosses you can work with. You can influence positively and you can do them a favour, by letting them know the impact that they're having.” 

However, when it comes to a boss whose problems stretch further than communication, Mills says you’re not likely to win and you will have to decide if the job is worth putting up with the boss. However, if it affects your mental health and wellbeing, she says: “You just have to get yourself out there.” This could be to something else within the organisation but you physically need to leave, or reduce contact with that person. 

When it comes to hybrid or remote working, Mills states that implementing human interaction would help improve any relationship issues with your boss as “virtual relationships get very transactional.” She explains: “Try to find ways to connect to your boss virtually to build and maintain a good relationship.” 

Have a story to share about bad bosses? Get in touch with [email protected] and follow @hiyahzaidi on Twitter to get involved.

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